COMMERCE, Ga. – She sweeps back her dark, tightly spiraled hair from her bronzed face, securing it into a ponytail. Small curls cascade down the nape of her neck. Her finger glistens in the sunlight with a jewel-encrusted, silver ring, as she fastens the clasp of her favorite butterfly necklace.
Maybe that’s how her last day alive started.
It’s what investigators are trying to uncover.
A female was found in Banks County, one mile off Interstate 85, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has only a few clues that they’re counting on to identify her. Problem is, she has no face, no fingerprints and no voice.
Because they only found her bones.
She’s someone’s daughter and possibly someone’s mother and wife.
Her name is Jane Doe, for now.
But her true identity has been stripped away by years of exposure to the elements and neglect.
Jeremy Howell, special agent and crime scene specialist with the GBI, is determined to understand who she is, where her story began, and why it ended in this rural resting place.
Leading the investigation, he said, they are hoping someone will recognize the evidence they found alongside her bones, which were scattered throughout the woods just yards off Hwy. 59, in Commerce, Ga., and within earshot of one of Georgia’s busiest interstates with several exit points full of trees, brush and thick countryside to cover a crime or dump a body.
“I-85 is a highway that connects several metropolitan areas, whether it's Atlanta or up through South Carolina, into North Carolina—along those roadways are several rural areas in which a body can be clandestinely discarded,” Howell said. “It's easy just to pull off I-85, travel about a mile, and you're at a very secluded area in which you can dispose of a body.”
Given that stretch of distance, her home could lead investigators hundreds of miles away.
But first, she needs to be identified.
What they know so far is that she is likely a black female, 30-44 years old and between 5’2 and 5’6 tall.
Most of her bones were recovered, as were bits and pieces of her clothing and two pieces of silver jewelry. The GBI is optimistic that someone—maybe you—will know who she is based on the ring and pendant that were found nearby her skull—which was stumbled upon by a real estate developer surveying the area in February.
“Once we can identify her, we can work our victimology. Find out where she's from, who she associates with, and try to get an idea of where she was last seen, who she was last seen with,” Howell said.
*DISCLAIMER: This story contains graphic images